BP Means Risky Business in North Atlantic

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Contact: Eve Mitchell, +44 (0)1381 610 740, emitchell (at) fweurope.org

BP Means Risky Business in North Atlantic

Accident at a BP Platform in UK Waters Would Flood the North Sea

LONDON - In response to BP's suspect safety record in the United States,
Washington, D.C.-based Food & Water Watch and its European program
Food & Water Europe is calling on the Department of Energy &
Climate Change and the Health and Safety Executive in the United Kingdom
to immediately investigate the five deepwater platforms operated by BP
in the North Sea and North Atlantic.

"BP is a rogue company that has destroyed the marine environment and
communities in the Gulf of Mexico through its disregard for safety,"
said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch.
"Anywhere there are BP deepwater facilities, they should be scrutinized.
Due to the location of the five BP operations in UK waters and the
Atlantic currents, any BP disaster here would foul the entire North
Sea."

Even before Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico earlier
this year, BP had a troubled safety record in the United States:

  • BP's Texas City refinery exploded in March 2005, killing 15 workers
    and injuring more than 170. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board attributed
    the explosion to BP's failure to follow safety procedures. Texas City
    and other U.S.-based BP workplace fatalities accounted for more than
    one-fourth of U.S. refinery workplace fatalities between 1995 and
    2005-10 times higher than fatalities at Exxon facilities;
  • Since 2006, BP has been subject to at least $142.8 million in fines
    and penalties for workplace safety violations in the U.S.
    alone-including $87.4 million for allegedly failing to implement
    workplace safety improvements under a settlement after the Texas City
    disaster, and $50 million in criminal fines related to that disaster;
  • In March 2006, 267,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from a corroded
    pipeline at BP's Prudhoe Bay facility. And in July 2005, Hurricane
    Dennis struck BP's Thunder Horse Deep Sea Platform in the Gulf of
    Mexico. Incorrectly installed ballast piping caused a 30-degree list
    that dipped the platform into the Gulf.

Last month, Food & Water Watch sued the U.S. Department of the
Interior, seeking a temporary injunction to halt operations of BP's
massive Atlantis oil drilling facility until critical safety documents
are produced.

"BP Texas City, BP Horizon, and BP Atlantis all have one thing in
common: the absence of ‘as built' drawings that correctly document the
facility. This clear pattern of violations makes us question, and should
raise alarms about, BP's safety practices at all of its facilities,"
said David Perry, the attorney representing Food & Water Watch in
the suit. Perry also represented victims injured in the 2005 Texas City
explosion and victims who intervened to oppose the U.S. government's
plea bargain with BP over Texas City as too lenient.

Food & Water Watch, along with former BP document controls
contract employee Kenneth Abbott, maintains the Department of the
Interior has allowed BP Atlantis to operate without documented, approved
final engineering drawings considered critical to safe operation.

In August 2008, Abbott notified his superiors that Atlantis lacked
proper and legally-required "as built" final engineering documents for
critical subsea components. He later took his concerns to the BP
Ombudsman's office.

An internal BP email written in August 2008, characterized the
situation as having the potential for "catastrophic Operator errors." In
February 2010, BP sent a letter to Congress saying that it only learned
of the allegations recently and claimed they were unsubstantiated.
Recently surfaced BP documents would later reveal, however, that BP had
known about these problems for years.

"Are there others like Atlantis operating in the Gulf of Mexico and
the North Sea? We won't know until the U.S. and UK governments take
action to assure independent investigations are conducted on each BP
deepwater operation within their waters," said Hauter. "BP's safety
record itself speaks to the critical need for independent oversight."

For more information, see our BP
safety fact sheet
and map of
deepwater oil and gas operations in the North Sea and Atlantic Frontier
and prevailing ocean currents
.

###

Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

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